Oct. 25, 2004 St. Thomas firefighters and other emergency workers were quick to respond to a Garden Street blaze late Monday morning. According to the downtown businessman who placed the emergency call alerting the Fire Department, a truck arrived within five minutes and 15 minutes later the fire was under control.
Richard O'Bymachow said he heard the "crackling sound of fire." He walked to the doorway of his Commandant Gade office and saw flames and smoke pouring from the window of a second floor apartment directly across the street.
"I called 911 and by the time the firemen arrived the second floor of the building was completely engulfed in flames," O'Bymachow said. He also said a tenant of the apartment, a woman called "Rosa," fainted on the porch in front of his business.
"Emergency workers took care of her and then an ambulance came," he said. A spokesman from Roy L. Schneider hospital was unable to confirm this Monday afternoon.
Donald Charles, V.I. Fire Service assistant director, said firefighters were alerted at 11:50 a.m. and that Charlotte Amalie's Hotel Company was the first to arrive, followed by Echo Company from the Northside and Lima from Tutu. But shortly after the crew began battling the first fire, flames had caught the building next door the second floor of Nancy's Beauty Salon.
"The firemen did an excellent job of quickly containing the second fire," Charles said, standing on the street below the still smoldering, skeletal remains of the apartment. The building next door showed much less damage. The second floors of both were wooden structures.
Charles said the cause of the fire was not yet known but that he was aware of no deaths or serious injuries "so far." He said that as soon as the smoke cleared an arson investigation unit would go in to look for the cause.
Police officers, St. Thomas Rescue and V.I. Water and Power Authority workers also responded quickly to the emergency. Charles explained that in the case of neighborhood fires, WAPA personnel "always come in and cut the power" to prevent electrical injury to the firemen.
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